Podcast 036: The Way to …Spain?

In This Episode: Another No Longer Weird story for the list, why episodes will be a bit sporadic over the next six weeks, and the role model that is Homer Simpson.

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Show Notes

  • D’oh! Click to see larger.

    No Longer Weird: arrestees who jump over into the driver’s seat and steal the police car they’re in. (Example: Tulsa World)

  • Wikipedia article on the Camino de Santiago, and the Martin Sheen film The Way.
  • Have questions about about This is True, stories in general, or the Thinking Toolbox series? Let me know via the Contact page, or tweet @ThisIsTrue, so I have something to talk about while Kit is gone!

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Randy: Welcome to Uncommon Sense, the Podcast companion to the ThisIsTrue.com newsletter with the mission to promote more thinking in the world. I’m Randy Cassingham.

Kit: I’m Kit Cassingham.

Randy: This week we’re discussing a story from issue 1243 of the newsletter, which will be included on the Show Page at thisistrue.com/podcast36.

But before we get to that story, we’ve got two things to talk about, the first being another segment of No Longer Weird. In March, I passed on a story submitted by readers from Tulsa, Oklahoma: police there arrested Angie Lynn Frost, 36, after a traffic stop, and the officer handcuffed Frost and put her in the back of his patrol car. Then, the officer said, “I heard the sound of the electric door locks from inside my police car. I turned around and observed that Frost had slipped her handcuffs to the front and was climbing over the driver’s seat.” He couldn’t do much to stop her: Frost allegedly got into the driver’s seat and sped off in the patrol car. But, of course, other officers already enroute to back up the arresting officer quickly found the car, and arrested Frost again. I rejected the story even though it had another detail that makes it funnier: the reason Frost was arrested in the first place is that she was driving a car that had been reported stolen.

Kit: You know, cop cars are pretty obvious — more obvious than usual. You don’t take such an obvious car if you don’t want to get caught.

Randy: But that was what was handy, so there you go.

Kit: Good point. She was already in it, what the heck?

Randy: The problem is, it’s just not that unusual anymore, so I’ve added it to the “No Longer Weird” list, and won’t be doing stories on that theme unless there’s some spectacular detail in a future news item that makes it, well, unusual! I’ll link to the story in the Tulsa World newspaper on the Show Page, and the full list of No Longer Weird stories is on the web site at thisistrue.com/nlw — for No Longer Weird.

Kit: That is just too funny, but OK!

Randy: But you know, I can only talk about that so many times before everybody goes, “Yeah, I’ve been there, seen that.”

Kit: And besides: there’s so many other “unusual” stories for you to report on.

Randy: Yeah, even though I’ve got this growing No Longer Weird list, I’m never short on stories.

Kit: That’s right!

Randy: The second item before we get to the main story this week is, the podcast will be skipping an episode here and there over the next several weeks because I won’t have a co-host for awhile: Kit has some very special, and extended, travel coming up. Tell them what you’re doing!

Kit: I am going to walk the Camino de Santiago, The French Way or The Camino Frances.

Randy: OK, so for people who have no idea what the Camino de Santiago is….

Kit: It is an 800 kilometer pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port in The French Alps all the way to Santiago, Spain.

Randy: So you go over the French Pyrenees.

Kit: This is the French Pyrenees, there are a couple of other mountain ranges I go through. The highest peak is not in the Pyrenees. It’s 5,000 feet tall…

Randy: Toward the end, as I recall.

Kit: The last half for sure, at least the middle. That’ll be interesting. It’ll be fun to come up to almost the elevation where I live.

Randy: For Americans who haven’t really been indoctrinated in the metric system, 800 kilometers is how long of a walk?

Kit: About 500 miles. Then I’m also going to walk from Santiago to Finisterre on the Atlantic Coast.

Randy: End of the world?

Kit: End of the world, yeah. And then up to Muxia, so that’s going to add 90 … and I don’t know how far Muxia is from Finisterre. And then by the time I’ve walked around town for dinner and stuff, I will have walked well over 600 miles when I get home. But my shoes have got a 5,000 mile warranty on the treads, so I’m set.

Randy: To walk 600 miles is gonna take a while.

Kit: Yep, I’m allowing about 32 days, but I want to make sure I’ve got plenty of time—

Randy: That’s like 17, 18 miles a day.

Kit: It’s about 17 miles a day. Yeah.

Randy: Because you’re also going to be taking some breaks here and there to make sure you don’t overwork yourself.

Kit: Let my body rest. It’s about 17 miles a day. Some days will be shorter. Like the first day, I’m walking a short six kilometers. It’s straight uphill, but that’s, you know….

Randy: ’Cause you hit the Pyrenees pretty much right away.

Kit: I start in the Pyrenees, and Saint Jean looks like a wonderful … I’m gonna call it the little village till I get there and see how big it is, but it’s got bridges over canals, and goes just straight up and downhill, and….

Randy: Some listeners might say, “This sounds familiar,” because they saw the movie The Way with Martin Sheen.

Kit: Yes.

Randy: Which we’ve seen and it’s a very good movie, and dang does it show how good of an actor Martin Sheen is!

Kit: Yeah, you kept saying that. I started my research with that movie. I have a friend who walked the last hundred kilometers six years ago, but that was all I knew about it. So I started with The Way, and since then watching a couple of other documentaries, read several books, read lots of forum posts.

Randy: You’re a member of several forums that have people who have walked or are going to walk it.

Kit: Going to … Yeah. I feel really prepared. When our retired marine friend said, “OK. I’m gonna sit down and help you make sure you’ve got everything you need.” He went through his survival training brain checklist…

Randy: Mental checklist. Yeah.

Kit: …and when we got to the end he said, “I’m sorry. I don’t have anything for you. You’ve got it all covered.” He said, “Oh…”

Randy: You’ve spent a lot of time planning this and thinking about it. Speaking of thinking, right? Thinking Toolbox. You’ve thought about this and what do you need and what do you not need, so that you’re not carrying whatever that is on your back.

Kit: Right. And Paul did give me comfort that I had thought it through carefully. My pack weighs more than what is recommended. They—

Randy: Which is?

Kit: They say carry 10 percent of your body weight.

Randy: And you’re a little thing, so that’s not very much weight.

Kit: Right. I’ve gone through it. I don’t feel like I can have only the clothes I’m wearing, because they need to get washed once in a while.

Randy: And they need to dry out.

Kit: And I want to wear something besides my pareo. But what I’m taking that most people probably don’t is six weeks worth of supplements.

Randy: Vitamins and all that, yeah.

Kit: Right. I have electrolyte to help keep my muscles fed and energized, so the nice thing about those is I’ll lose those portions of ounces.

Randy: Right. As you go along.

Kit: …every day.

Randy: …you’ll have less and less weight to carry.

Kit: Yeah. Last time I weighed, I had about 20 pounds. I took two pounds out and I put some back in, as I’ve realized that I should have a battery charger for my phone.

Randy: Right. You don’t weigh anywhere near 200 pounds, so you’re over the suggested 10 percent.

Kit: But in my backpacking days I carried 40 pounds.

Randy: But not for 30 days straight.

Kit: Correct. But—

Randy: But you could do it.

Kit: I could do it. Yeah. When I went to Europe with my sister back in ‘82, I think my pack weighed about 25 pounds, and it wasn’t a proper—

Randy: Well, back then it probably wasn’t as high tech design, and all that.

Kit: Well, it was high tech for the day, but it was not fit for me, so the straps were out on my … the tips of my shoulder blades, so they got really bruised and tired, didn’t have a waist belt. I feel like I’ve got it down pat and I’m really excited. We’ll see what the weather … I’ve been watching the weather for the first few days, and it’s rainy or snowy.

Randy: But you’re prepared for that with all your planning.

Kit: Right. Though one person posted that a couple days ago they started through the Alps, and it started raining on them, and it started snowing, and then there were 60 mile an hour gusts. They were blowing sideways. They made it, but one person had to be rescued.

Randy: By the time you get there, it’s going to be sunny and mild….

Kit: I’m bringing Colorado sunshine with me!

Randy: There you go. So Kit will be around long enough to record an episode which will air in two weeks that I’m working on now, which promises to be a really interesting segment of the Thinking Toolbox, where we’ll talk about a truly fundamental question….

Kit: Ooh! I can’t wait!

Randy: …“What is thinking?” It’s not as simple as you—

Kit: Think!

Randy: …might think! Exactly.

Kit: And you can’t trust everything you think, so this is going to be fun.

Randy: And while I’ll still be here, and will likely do an episode or three solo during that time, don’t be surprised at skipped episodes while Kit is away. On the other hand, there’s an opportunity for you: if you have questions you would like answered, about This is True, stories in general, or the Thinking Toolbox series, pop me a note on the Contact page, or tweet me @thisistrue on Twitter. And the Contact page is pretty easy: it’s thisistrue.com/contact

Kit: That’s pretty easy!

Randy: It’s real easy. If I think your question will be of interest to listeners, I’ll use your note in an episode.

Kit: Oh, that would be fun. I like the sound of that. I hope a lot of listeners will take you up on that.

Randy: And you know, you can still listen while you’re over there, because you have a podcast app on your phone!

Kit: And I can download it….

Randy: But I’ll understand if you want to…

Kit: Take a break?

Randy: No: detatch from high-tech stuff and not…

Kit: Well, I’m…. You know I’m going to be doing vlogs and blogs and pictures and things. So I’m not detaching from high tech completely. I am trying to not work. Somebody said, when I told them about a book they would like, they said, “Oh, you should download that and read that.” Nope: that’s work, and I’m not going to do that. I want this to be a complete mental and spiritual break to see what happens. Because they say you change, and I can’t wait to see who I am at the end.

Randy: As you said, it’s a pilgrimage walk, and actually, I think it was last episode you said you’re not particularly religious, so why would a non-religious person take a pilgrimage, especially one that’s such a commitment as this?

Kit: Right. Not a walk around the park. It started because my friend, who I mentioned earlier, who did it six years ago, she did that last section with her husband. He’d always wanted to do the full Camino, and he unfortunately died before he had the chance, so she invited me to go with her and we were going to go last year, but she had a chance to become a foster mom, and she couldn’t pass that up. So we canceled our plans, I rescheduled mine.

Randy: And she’s still a foster-momming.

Kit: Yeah. And seems to really love it. I’m sure the little girl … I know she’s blessed to have my friend. They’re blessed to have each other. So why does a spiritual, but a not religious person do a pilgrimage? One, because somebody you’ve known since first grade invites you to do it.

Randy: But she’s still not going but.

Kit: And she’s still not going, but—

Randy: But you got intrigued by it, by—

Kit: I got very intrigued by it. It became something I wanted to do for the physical exertion, because I keep hearing how you change, or I was going to say, “It changes you.” I don’t know how the change happens, so I’ll find out.

Randy: You won’t necessarily be changed, but people say that it’s changing, so, hey, check it out.

Kit: I expect I will come to trust myself, my instincts, and my abilities that much more. I hope that I’ll become an even kinder, nicer person. I think I’m wonderfully kind and nice right now. Most of the time.

Randy: No comment!

Kit: But patience is something I can learn. And you don’t—

Randy: I would think this would teach you patience.

Kit: Yeah. And having faith, trust. One of the mantras is the Camino provides. One of my friends, who did this several years [ago] didn’t have any water with her, and she was really thirsty, it was a hot day. And she walked up to a fruit vendor and he said, “Hey! Here, have a bottle of water.”

Randy: Interesting.

Kit: People will walk up to you while you’re tending to your blisters, and they’ll say, “Oh, I’ve got just the treatment for that.” On and on it goes. And those are minor.

Randy: This is actually getting to be a pretty popular thing that….

Kit: Because of the movie, Americans especially have flocked to this pilgrimage.

Randy: And you’d think that the Spaniards would be completely fed up, and not like all this, but Spanish government actually gives free medical care. If you have the so-called “passport”…

Kit: The Camino Passport.

Randy: …and you have any medical problems like blisters getting really bad, or you fall and break a leg or something, they will actually give you free medical care to help you through that.

Kit: It is such … I’m glad to hear that. This is such a boom to the economy. You walk from one lodging establishment to another, and there’s—

Randy: There’s like hostels along the way.

Kit: They’re from very, very basic hostel dorm like establishments…

Randy: 50 people in a room.

Kit: Or 100, 150. All the way up to very luxurious hotels and paradors, and casa rurales. So depending on how you want to spend your time and money, you can have anything you want. But you walk from one place to another, and there … they call them bars, they’re café bars and sandwich shops, and restaurants all along the way. There are these things called pilgrim meals, and it might be a stew, it might be a sandwich. It’s like a set menu and you just can go order the pilgrim meal.

Randy: It’s called an Alberga? Is that…?

Kit: Albergues.

Randy: Albergues, I can say that.

Kit: It took me forever to figure that out, because I was trying to put my French in there.

Randy: But that’s basically the hostel.

Kit: That’s the hostel.

Randy: And it’s you get there and they have a big community dinner, and….

Kit: Some of them community dinners, some have none. There are also things called municipals, or … I’m not sure I’m saying that right, but that the community hosts. You might stay in a church, you could stay in a monastery. There are all kinds of delightful—

Randy: Again, the Spaniards are being very hospitable, and—

Kit: They love it. Partly because it has changed them. Everybody seems to really recognize this spiritual… the energy around this path, and the people on it. Both the people, who live there, and the people who walk it. There’s evidently a sheepherder’s hut up on top of the Pyrenees, and when there was the discussion about the snow storm the other day, people said, “Yeah, we used to have to spend the night in there.” “Well, we couldn’t because it was already filled with people.” It does get used.

Randy: So It’ll be interesting to talk to you about it when you get back, and—

Kit: Maybe we can set up—

Randy: …see if you change.

Kit: Maybe we can set up a Skype one mid-way or something.

Randy: Because a lot of these places you’ll be staying will have wifi, and we might be able to communicate. Hopefully, on a regular basis, so I don’t have to be without you for weeks on end.

Kit: Well, you’ll be without me physically, but you don’t have to be without me emotionally and voicely. You know, voicely’s a good word.

Randy: Well, no promises because it will depend on the technology and the connection, but we’ll do it if we can.

Kit: Yeah.

Randy: All right, we’ll move on to the story we’re talking about this week—

Kit: Can’t be nearly as good as this!

Randy: …from issue 1243 of the This is True newsletter, ah hem! I titled it, “Trying Is Just the First Step Toward Failure”. How’s that for being on the theme?

Kit: Hmm!

Randy: You’re going to try hard and I don’t think you’re going to fail.

Kit: Nope, I’m not.

Randy: A police constable in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England, pulled over a car for a traffic violation. The driver handed over a license — showing the name of “Homer Simpson”. It was even more inaccurate than that: the license showed Homer lives at “28 Springfield Way” even though any fan of the cartoon series knows he lives at 742 Evergreen Terrace. “The driver’s car was seized and he was reported for driving with no insurance, and driving without a proper licence,” police said on Facebook. And then they added this comment: “D’oh!”

Kit: (laughs) Oh no!

Randy: My tagline for the story was, “The way Homer drives, he was doomed either way.”

Kit: So (gasp), did the driver look like Homer?

Randy: They didn’t actually say; I hope not!

Kit: And did the person who picked him up [from jail] look like Marge?

Randy: I hope so! With big bouffant blue hair.

Kit: I’m not sure if I like the bouffant or the blue better.

Randy: But if anyone doesn’t click on the slug for this story — “Trying Is Just the First Step Toward Failure” — it’s a line from our hero himself:

[sound bite]

Kit: (laughs) That makes bump on my forehead hurts from listening to that.

Randy: And that, if you don’t already know, is the everyman failure at everything, Homer Simpson himself. So I don’t have huge lessons to draw from this story: I just liked it because not only is it just a dumb thing to do and therefore entertaining, it’s a stunt that’s guaranteed to be ridiculed online when it gets out, so it’s “lucky” for the driver that the police department didn’t name him, but also because it shows two other things: people doing dumb things don’t just happen in the United States, since This is True is not about Americans, but rather about humanity in general, and second, that yeah, the American culture, if you will, infiltrates other countries quite deeply. As the police said about this story, “D’oh!”

Kit: Well Randy, one thing you didn’t touch on is that Homers whole attitude dooms him to failure. I mean, I had high school friends who said, “Well I never want to have my hopes up because they’ll only get dashed, so if I keep my hopes low, I’ll always be surprised!” And that fits in with this whole thing of Trying is the first step toward failure. How about changing that, and being a little more optimistic?

Randy: That’s part of the whole design of The Simpsons, is how not to live, and—

Kit: Well, for Homer. Homer is a great example of how not to live.

Randy: Right, and that’s pretty much the point of the series, I think, and secondly, that’s what your job is, is to make those kinds of comments, so I don’t have to do all the commentary! You’re here too!

Kit: Oh good.

Randy: Thanks for bringing that up.

Kit: Yeah.

Randy: Again the Show Page for this episode is thisistrue.com/podcast36, and you can leave comments there too. As always, thanks for listening. I’m Randy Cassingham…

Kit: I’m Kit Cassingham.

Randy: And we’ll talk at you later.

4 thoughts on “Podcast 036: The Way to …Spain?

  1. How does one prepare for such a hike?

    Kit is now on a plane, so she won’t be available to answer this anytime soon. You prepare by studying, reading books, watching films, carefully planning what to take, getting mentally ready, and — of course! — getting physically ready by training. -rc

  2. Has Kit really done all her math on this (El Camino) trip? In the podcast she says twice that it is about 17 miles a day. But more than 600 miles over 32 days is greater than 18.75 miles a day, or about 19, not 17. Doesn’t sound like much, but after walking 17 miles in less than ideal conditions, those extra two miles will seem a burden. And even worse, because they use kilometers over there, the difference is over three kilometers, not just two miles!

    Coincidentally, two days ago (Sunday) I had asked my wife if she ever wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Though she has pancreatic cancer (seven year survivor) and she quit doing triathlons, she is still in good enough shape to walk 19 miles, even in kilometers! But she said no, no interest. However, if she were going to hike anywhere, it would be the El Camino. Yeah, we saw the movie, too.

    Best wishes, sincerely, to Kit on her physical and spiritual journey.

    I think she misspoke: she is allowing 35 days, and with the correct number, the math does work out to very slightly more that 17 miles/day. -rc

  3. 1. Good luck & good thoughts on the journey.

    2. According to howmanyofme.com there are 38 Homer Simpsons in the US (13 Barts & 6 Marges). I can understand the temptation of putting a removable sticker over the license photo but to create a fake one is bordering on criminal stupidity.

    1. Thanks. 2. I’m guessing it’s simply a funny novelty thing that someone sold in bulk, not something the driver created. -rc

  4. Wow Kit! Just WOW! This listener is pulling for you and wishing you the best of health in your journey. I know she will make it!

    Would love to see her packing list on what she took.

    I’ll try to get it for you. I’m sure she has it written down somewhere. -rc

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